Saturday, December 28, 2013

Pray4America (part 11) - New Year Reset


To the good old days! 

That is a good modern paraphrase of Auld Lang Syne.  
[reference:  History and Meaning of the Song, Auld Lang Syne - Yahoo Voices -]

The lyrics and the tune have an interesting history.   Auld Lang Syne  is from Scottish poem written in 1788 by Robert Burns and later the words were set to the music of a folk song. 
 [reference:  The History and Words of Auld Lang Syne — The Official Gateway to Scotland]

Universally sung as New Year’s Eve turns into the New Year at the stroke of midnight,  no doubt, it will be sung, again, around the world as 2013 rolls over to 2014.

A beautiful rendition of this song is performed in this link below:


The New Year can bring a sense of optimism, a sense of starting over.  Resetting the calendar can mean a reset of our lives.  As to the good old days, it is a time to put the past behind us and press ahead into the future - the New Year.

In the New Testament, St. Paul exhorts us, too, to put the past behind us and press ahead and look up as expressed in this advice:

Brothers and sisters, 
I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

This past year has had many troubling events, its share of tragedies.  But 2013 has had its triumphs as well as good memories.  Though there still may be dark days ahead in 2014, we have the promise that the future will be glorious in a new world where the sorrow of the past will be forgotten:
See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,  
nor will they come to mind.

Meanwhile, as we press ahead and make resolutions for 2014, may one of our New Year's resolution be to lift up one another and -

Pray for America

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Culture 101 (part 13) - Coventry Carol

Wikipedia/The Adoration of the Shepherds

Christmas carols have become part of the holiday tradition and part of our culture.  Many celebrate with winter songs as well as songs about the birth of Jesus, such as what is pictured above.

As concerning the more religious carols about Jesus, most are about His birth in Bethlehem, the baby Jesus in the manager, the shepherds hearing His birth announcement by the angels, the wise men from the east.  Here is a sample of such:

* The annunciation

The story can be found here - Luke 1:26 - 34  - The Birth of Jesus Foretold

Many songs celebrate this event, such as - Handel Messiah, Alto Recitative: Behold, a virgin shall conceive

* The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem 

The story of the birth is told  here  - Luke 2:1-7

And many carols sing about His birth in Bethlehem.  This one may be unique (a traditional spiritual sung in English, then Chinese) - Little Baby Jesus born in Bethlehem

* The shepherds visitation by angels 

The story of the angels announcing the birth to the shepherds abiding in the field is here - Luke 2:8-20

And many songs celebrate  this, such as - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

* The Wise men visit

The story is here - Matthew 2:1-12

And there are many carols such as - We Three Kings of Orient Are

But one part  seems to be skipped over in the Christmas story and carols.  That is ...

* The Slaying of the Innocents

The story is here - Matthew 2:13-18

In particular these verses tend to be skipped over -

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

Actually there is at least one traditional Christmas carol that sings about the slaying of the innocents.

* Coventry Carol *

The melody of this carol is hauntingly beautiful:
Wikidpedia / Coventry Carol

And it is set to these lyrics:

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
By, by, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young to slay.

Then, woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

As The Gospel of Matthew describes the slaying of the innocents when Jesus, the Deliverer, was brought into the world, likewise the Old Testament in the Book of Exodus describes the slaying of the innocents before the Deliverer - Moses - was brought into the world.  [reference:  Exodus 1:1-2:10]

Many celebrate Moses delivering his people in the feast of Passover.  And that feast looks back to the deliverance from slavery in Egypt as well as looking forward to the coming of the Messiah as sung below in this traditional Hebrew melody -

(reference: )

The lyrics in this arrangement combine Hebrew with English from Charles Wesley's hymn - Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (another great Advent carol):

Eliyahu hanavi, Eliyahu hatishbi
Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu, hagladi.
Bimheira b'yameinu yavo eileinu
Im Mashiach ben David, Im Mashiach ben David.

(Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah from Gilead, may he come
soon and in our days, with Messiah the Son of David.)

Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free.
From our sins and fears release us, let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art.
Dear desire of ev'ry nation, joy of ev'ry longing heart.

Bimheira b'yameinu, yavo elieinu
Mashiach ben David, Mashiach ben David
Bimheira b'yameinu, yavo elieinu
Mashiach ben David, Mashiach ben David

(Soon and in our days, Messiah the Son of David will come again to us.)

This Advent and Holy Season may we look back to the coming of the Messiah into the world.  And may be look forward to His second coming.  As St. John wrote the final words of the promise of the Second Coming in Revelation -

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.


Previous posts in the Culture 101 series:

Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge (2012)

Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe (2012)

Culture 101 (part 3) - Paul Revere's Ride (2012)

Culture 101 (part 4) - Gold Diggers and the Great Depression (2012)

Culture 101 (part 5) - Blue Bloods and 9/11 (2012)

Culture 101 (part 6) - Gilligan's Island and Breast Cancer Awareness (2012)

Culture 101 (part 7) - Band of Brothers  (2013)

Culture 101 (part 8) - Snow White (2013)

Culture 101 (part 9) - Father Knows Best (2013)

Culture 101 (part 10) - Summertime! x 3 (2013)

Culture 101 (part 11) - Native American Osmosis (2013)

Culture 101 (part 12) - Thanksgivukkah (Thanksgiving and Hanukkah) (2013)


Photos from: Wikipedia/The Adoration of the Shepherds ;   Wikipedia / Coventry Carol   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Proverbs (part 2) - Live Long and Prosper

Wikipedia/Beowulf and the dragon
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

The Book of Proverbs begins by giving such advice to a young man starting out in life - going out the door.  (Young ladies, too.)

Before walking down that road -

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
    and a chain to adorn your neck.
Proverbs 1:8-9  (NIV)

Several verses in Proverbs repeat this advice to the young person.  It must be important.  Indeed as Tolkien wrote - it is a dangerous business going out your door.

And in other literature and stories, similar advice is given to the younger generation.  An example of such - a father's instruction to his son -  is read below in the poem,  IF, by Rudyard Kipling :

And by listening to the wise parent or guardian, comes this promise:

My son, do not forget my teaching,
   but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years

   and bring you peace and prosperity.
Proverbs 3:1-2 (NIV)

 A shortened version is this traditional religious Jewish blessing -

Live long and prosper.

Sound familiar?

We may know it as a Vulcan greeting from Star Trek.  And it may be no coincidence that the actor, Leonard Nimoy, who first played Mr. Spock, and made this phrase well know, again, is Jewish.
[reference:  Live long and prosper - origin]

Whether the 10th century B.C. or the 23rd century A.D. ... on planet Earth or Vulcan or anywhere in the universe, this blessing is timeless and universal.

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
   but the word of our God stands forever.

Isaiah 40:8 (NIV)


Related Links -

Lessons in Manliness From the Greatest Generation | The Art of Manliness


Previous post in the series:

Proverbs (part 1) - Information vs. Wisdom (2013)


Photo from:
Wikipedia/Beowulf and the dragon

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

PC Watch (part 2) - The South Park Offense

Question Authority

That was a mantra of protesters in the 1960s, often credited to Timothy Leary.  [reference: Timothy Leary Quotes]  But Benjamin Franklin, an original American revolutionary, may have said it first.  [reference:  Benjamin Franklin Quotes/Quotations from Liberty Quotes]  Indeed, if we wish to think for ourselves, questioning authority is a good start.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the generation gap between the baby boomers and the "greatest generation" was made even more pronounced with this warning -

Never trust anyone over 30  

This slogan of the baby boomer generation is attributed to Jack Weinberg , though it is not a new thought and seems to recycle itself with each new generation.  [reference:  Quote/Counterquote: Don't trust anyone over 30 – or 40]

Time marches on.  Now, baby boomers are all over thirty and many of us have become part of "the establishment" - the very thing some had protested against in the 1960s.  And ironically some who had been part of the free speech movement (FSM) have pushed the political correctness in our times which seems to have a chilling repression of free speech.  [reference:  The Death of Free Speech on Campus]

But the following generations find creative ways of watching out for the people and exposing the abuses of the politically powerful.  One tried and true method of attack on "the establishment" is an offense through "children's stories" and humor.

Those who follow my blogs may have an inkling that my posts express a conservative worldview with a religious flavor. So it may seem a surprise that I have taken to the Comedy Central cartoon South Park.  Yes, this show pushes the boundaries of decency and nice as the first weekly TV show to earn the Mature Audience (MA) rating.  No doubt many find the cartoon offensive for its language and adult situations.

The South Park Offense?

Frankly, I see redeeming social value in South Park's humor.  It is an equal opportunity offender, sparing no special group of its barbs and satire, taking on the establishment and politically correct world with comedy.  And it can be a great tool to go on the offensive in the culture war and even teach children to question authority and think for themselves.

But this cartoon is not for children, is it?  It's MA - mature audiences only.  Yet, this clip makes a case that children can learn important skills of critical thinking:

(Warning:  Some mature content in video below.)

Quick summary for kids of all ages:

1.  Almost every episode shows the difference between legitimate authority and the abuse of power/scare mongering.

  Otherwise, South Park encourages us to think for ourselves - question authority, especially those in the establishment.

2.  Kids today (as well as us adults) are subjected to a "tolerance" and "diversity" that ring hollow and false.  

  But the show fosters a true live and let live ethos sadly lacking in most school curricula - as well as other institutions and much of the media.

3.  A core theme is taking personal responsibility for our own actions.  

   In many of the episodes, it takes a child to point out self-control and accountability to the adults.  It also lampoons blaming someone or something else for the problems we have created, such as Blame Canada!

And there have been many  types of "South Parks" throughout history.  

Here are a few of them:

* Court jesters

Often the court jester (or fool) was the rare person who could criticize the king with impunity and freely speak his mind.   [reference: Medieval Jesters]  One such example in western literature is  the Fool in Shakespeare's King Lear.

* Children's stories 

Listed are some examples of classics some of us have grown up with -
*  Nursery Rhymes [reference: Secret History of the Nursery Rhyme], 
*  Aesop's Fables [reference: "The Storyteller from Samos" by Donna L. Preble],
*  Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels [reference: George Orwell: Politics vs. Literature - An examination of Gulliver's travels]

These are only a few examples of how the commoners, the powerless of the day, were able to exercise free speech and criticize the politics and the abuses of the elite.  Under the heel of a tyrant, the critics of the political correctness of those regimes often came to an end that was not pretty.

Today, we may see ourselves as more civilized.  But we have our ways to silence free speech and dissent through character assassination and the politics of personal destruction.

The South Park characters are an example of the court of jesters of our times.  The show lampoons political correctness through the eyes of children so we may open our eyes and see that the Emperor really has no clothes!  [reference:  Hans Christian Andersen : The Emperor's New Clothes :: :: The Hans Christian Andersen Center]

And some of the South Park Offense is an effective offense in the culture war, questioning authority and perhaps get us thinking for ourselves.

Benjamin Franklin would be proud!


Previous post in this series:

 PC Watch (part 1) - Political Correctness (2013)


Photo from:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Culture 101 (part 12) - Thanksgivukkah (Thanksgiving and Hanukkah)

everystockphoto/Channukah 5767 

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

We have an unusual confluence of events.  Two beloved holidays - Thanksgiving and Hanukkah - fall on the same day in 2013.  [referenece:  ‘Thanksgivukkah’ when Chanukah and Thanksgiving share the same day]  The previous referenced article explains this occurrence will be the first and last time this confluence of holidays will happen.

So seize the day!!!


First day of Hanukkah for 2013 is on November 28 - though officially it starts on the evening of November 27. [reference:  When is Chanukah in 2013? -]

The story behind this Jewish holiday is intriguing as it happened during the inter-testament period (between the writing of the Old and New Testament)  around 170 B.C.  Antiochus IV Epiphanes had oppressed the Jews in Jerusalem and desecrated the temple.  But under the leadership of the Maccabees, the Jews revolted and drove out their oppressors.   The temple had only enough sacred oil for one day, but it miraculously burned for eights days - giving time to prepare new oil for the menorah in the holy place.

The Festival of Dedication story can be found here:  Judaism 101: Chanukkah.  And below is a video clip of one of the traditional songs to enjoy:

The story is told here in First  Maccabees of the Apocrypha, specifically 1 Maccabees 4:36-58.

And Jesus celebrated Hanukkah as noted in the Gospel of John:

Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem.
It was winter,
 and Jesus was in the temple courts
walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.

John 10:22,23 (NIV)

Like the re-dedication of the temple during the time of the Maccabees, Jesus cleansed the temple at the start of his public ministry (John 2:13-17) and at the end of his public ministry (Matthew 21:12-13). Undoubtedly, the Festival of Dedication had a great meaning to him.

Which takes us to another tradition with a religious flavor.


Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday. This year it falls on November 28th - on the first day of Hanukkah.  [reference: Thanksgiving Day in United States]

Wikipedia/First Thanksgiving
For a good resource to explore the history of Thanksgiving, check out:  Thanksgiving — Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts

Giving thanks - thanksgiving - has religious roots in both the Old and New Testaments - as shown below in this clip:

Psalm 107 , for example, is filled with verses of giving thanks to the Lord for delivering his people from times of trouble and distress.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind

Psalm 107:1, 8 (NIV)

As we think of Thanksgiving as a day of feasting ....

Look at giving thanks to this miraculous feast 2000 years ago ...

It is not a coincidence that the one miracle of Jesus told in all four gospels is the feeding of the 5000 (more like 15,000 if women and children are factored in).  Receiving the boy's gift of five loaves and two fishes, the Lord Jesus gave thanks and a great miracle happened as the loaves and fishes multiplied to feed the gathering with food leftover as everyone had their fill.

everstockphoto/Loaves and Fishes
Note the common theme ...

And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.
Matthew 14:19 (NIV) 

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.
Mark 6:41 (NIV) 

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people.
Luke 9:16 (NIV) 

Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
John 6:11 (NIV )

Whether keeping the oil burning for the re-dedication of the temple or the multiplying of the loaves and the fishes to feed a hungry crowd, each was a cause for giving thanks.

And 2013 is a year when these two holidays -  Hanukkah and Thanksgiving - converge.

May those of us of faith resolve ...

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17 (NIV)



Previous posts in the Culture 101 series:

Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge (2012)

Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe (2012)

Culture 101 (part 3) - Paul Revere's Ride (2012)

Culture 101 (part 4) - Gold Diggers and the Great Depression (2012)

Culture 101 (part 5) - Blue Bloods and 9/11 (2012)

Culture 101 (part 6) - Gilligan's Island and Breast Cancer Awareness (2012)

Culture 101 (part 7) - Band of Brothers  (2013)

Culture 101 (part 8) - Snow White (2013)

Culture 101 (part 9) - Father Knows Best (2013)

Culture 101 (part 10) - Summertime! x 3 (2013)

Culture 101 (part 11) - Native American Osmosis (2013)


Photos from:
*   everystockphoto/Channukah 5767 
 *   Wikipedia/First Thanksgiving
 *  everstockphoto/Loaves and Fishes

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Culture 101 (part 11) - Native American Osmosis

Wikipedia/The Searchers

As November is Native American Heritage Month, what better opportunity is there than to offer tribute to one of the greatest contributors to our American culture, especially in the American West?  And the culture of the American West leads close to home - my home.

Before my father married, he had been a cowboy in the the first half of the 20th century.  His immigrant parents had homesteaded, he had worked the family ranch, and he had also worked as a ranch hand, where he met my mother, who was on a working vacation .

I recall my father really loved the American West and all the shows associated with it.  Gunsmoke was one of his favorite television programs.  As for movies, he really loved John Wayne especially in westerns.

Below is a clip of some stills of John Wayne's westerns (audio from the Alamo (1960))

This American icon is an attempt to capture a characteristic of a people identified with the American West.  The laconic, plain spoken, down-to-earth, honest pilgrim has seemed to have resonated in American culture as evident by the popularity of the western genres.

But a strong case has been made that the source of these values and characteristics of the American cowboy, for example, came from the Native American Indians.  And here is a theory how that may have happened.  Let's start with ...

East meets West

I have a running series on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance  by Robert Pirsig - which I abbreviate as ZAMM.  (For the last post - with links to earlier posts, check out - ZAMM (part 7) - Yes or No - Gotcha!)  

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig was published in 1974 and has been deemed an important culture-bearing book of the 20th century.  And 15 years later (1992), Robert Pirsig came out with another one -  Lila: An Inquiry into Morals.  (Perhaps, I may start another series based on "Lila" when I wrap up ZAMM.)

The metaphysical discourse continues in this sequel as the author uses the voice of his alter-ego Phaedrus.  While sailing down the Hudson River, he encounters a troubled woman named Lila - his muse as he ponders the meaning of culture and morality.

In one discourse, Phaedrus recalls a fellow English professor at Montana State College (now MSU-Bozeman),   James Verne Dusenberry (1906-1966).  Professor Dusenberry had made an impression with his passion for helping the Native Americans at the college and on the reservations.

 Many details are given in Lila, but Praedrus writes how Dusenberry had immersed himself with the culture, much to the consternation of "objective anthropologists."   Turned down by American universities for further graduate study in anthropology, Dusenberry got his PhD at the University of Stockholm with a thesis of Native American Indians.  Quite ironic.

Wikipedia/ Native American Church
During their days at Montana State College, Dusenberry took Phaedrus to the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation near Busby.  There, the two college professors engaged in one of the ceremonies at the Native American Church.

Phaedrus admitted the experience seemed quite strange as it involved imbibing the hallucinogen,  peyote, a Mexican cactus.  (In that day, peyote was a relatively unknown substance - as this was before the 1960s counter-culture.)  But this cactus was a key part of their vision quest.  Peyote was less masochistic and quicker than the olden days (before the 19th century). Back then, a vision quest involved days of isolation, fasting, prayers, and mediation until the Great Spirit revealed himself and took over the life of the seeker.

As Phraedrus just let the experience happen - he describes it in Lila - he became aware that he had become part of a people who were the plain spoken, laconic, deliberate in their actions, direct, honest.  Then Phaedrus felt a split inside him.  One part felt the experience was so alien.  The other part felt it was quite familiar -  like he was coming home.

Ah hah!

Then it hit Phaedrus.  The Native Americans were the originators of the culture of the American West, which we share in the stories of the mountain men, the settlers, the cowboys  - such as portrayed by actors like John Wayne.  Yet, we don't recognize this because of the long running hostility between the white men and Native Americans.

Here is another story in our popular culture to make that point.

In the movie Little Big Man (1970) , Jack Crabb survived a Pawnee massacre of his parent's wagon train, but later he was rescued and raised by the Cheyenne.  Telling the story as an old man looking back, Jack moved in and out of  the culture of the white settlers and the Native Americans.

Jack's adopted grandfather in the scene below plainly talks of the hostility between the two peoples.  Yet the human beings (what the Cheyenne called themselves) accepted Jack, a white man, into their culture much like Professor Dunsenberry had been accepted by the Northern Cheyenne in the 20th century.

Osmosis ...

That's the best world I can think of to describe what happened as the Native American culture rubbed off onto the settlers.  The first Mountain Men  lived with the Natives and learned their ways.   Later, the settlers came and learned to survive from the Mountain Men.  Yet the settlers did not recognize the source of the culture that they had embraced came from the Native Americans.  Perhaps they did not want to recognize it.  They were hostile toward them and looked down on them.

But Phraedrus researched the writings of the natives commenting on the white men and white men commenting on the natives and made this correlation:  Europeans viewed Americans - their lack of eloquence, lack of discipline, their sloppiness, lack of social class structure -  much like how  the Americans viewed the natives.  And natives viewed the white man - their deceitful and empty talk, the snobbishness, the arrogance, the disingenuousness - much like how many Americans viewed the Europeans.

With more digging, Phaedrus discovered that Professor Dusenberry was not the first to come to this conclusion  Child prodigy William Sidis was onto this and wrote about it, such as in this piece - An Unpublished Exploration of Native American Contributions to Democracy.  Mostly, Sidis' writings at the time were scoffed at and ignored, much like Professor Dusenberry was at Montana State College.

Much can be said about the Native American influence on the American government and our cherished beliefs - equality, lack of social classes, freedom.  But that can be fodder for another blog.

Yet these values - equality and freedom - are part of our American culture and the New World's gift to the Old World.


Other posts on this subject

America's Story (part 2) - Savages! (2011)

America's Story (part 11) - Sacajawea (2012)


Previous posts in the Culture 101 series:

Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge (2012)

Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe (2012)

Culture 101 (part 3) - Paul Revere's Ride (2012)

Culture 101 (part 4) - Gold Diggers and the Great Depression (2012)

Culture 101 (part 5) - Blue Bloods and 9/11 (2012)

Culture 101 (part 6) - Gilligan's Island and Breast Cancer Awareness (2012)

Culture 101 (part 7) - Band of Brothers  (2013)

Culture 101 (part 8) - Snow White (2013)

Culture 101 (part 9) - Father Knows Best (2013)

Culture 101 (part 10) - Summertime! x 3 (2013)


Photos from:  Wikipedia/The Searchers ; Amazon/Lila ; Wikipedia/ Native American Church;  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pray4America (part 10) - Real Hope for America

Wikipedia/911 site cross

America's Pastor

Billy Graham has been called America's Pastor.  [reference:  'America's Pastor': At 74, Billy Graham Begins to Sum Up, Regrets and All (February 3, 1993)]   And for photo essay of ministry, please check out:  Billy Graham: America's Pastor - Photo Essays - TIME

Certainly, Dr. Graham has been a powerful evangelist and a voice to call our nation back to God for over six decades -  [reference: Billy Graham Biography | Story of the famous evangelist Billy Graham]  Below is a short clip of various interviews of skeptical talk show hosts during those years.

As noted in the video,  "America's Pastor" has pledged to continue to preach the gospel as long as God gives  him breath and has the strength to do it.

In this article, he gives a dire warning to our nation:  The Rev. Billy Graham's dire warning: America is drowning in ‘sea of immorality’ - Washington Times  After the 2012 elections, Billy Graham had announced  - My Hope America ...

For such a time as this.

As Billy Graham turns 95, he has prepared for America perhaps his last message to be given on his birthday, November 7th:

The broadcast can be found in the following listings: Watch My Hope America with Billy Graham

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Biblia Files (part 3) - Gideon - weakness, warts and all


My local women's Bible study just finished Gideon using the guide which is shown above. 
[for a promo: click here]

The series of lessons was written and taught via DVD by Priscilla Shirer - a graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary in Biblical studies.  But Priscilla describes herself as a wife and mom first though, in my opinion, she is a wonderful teacher.  She connects with students - whether in a classroom setting or on the other side of TV screen - and really knows her stuff.

Why Gideon?

This Old Testament story still is relevant in the 21st century.  Human nature - its weakness, warts and all - have not changed.  And today, so many of us may feel like Gideon - small, insignificant, weak - especially when oppressed by powerful foes.  But  God uses our weaknesses as the key to tap into His resources and give us His strength to open the door to victory.

For a taste of the series, check out the clip below:

Now for, a few ...


Though the story takes up three chapters, Judges 6-8, there are riches to be mined here and timeless lessons to be learned.  In these few short chapters, patterns appear that repeat themselves throughout Scripture and history.

For example:

*  Gideon did well - at first - when he was aware of his weakness and totally depended on God, checking in frequently to do His will. Following God's instruction, Gideon with his band of 300 scored a great victory over the Midianites.

*  And in the New Testament, St. Paul received a word from the Lord concerning his "torn in the flesh" -

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Great lesson.

But after great victories, Gideon became a victim of his own success.  Pride moved in.  And it was the undoing of his family as we see in Judges 8 and the decline of the nation after Gideon's passing in Judges 9.

And Moses gave warning that this would happen:

11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.
12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,
13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied,
14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Deuteronomy 8 (NIV)

And the people did not heed the warning as this same theme repeats itself in the Old Testament.   After the judges, such as Gideon, came the kings - Saul, David, Solomon ...  Some did well until they forgot God.  And the same can be said for us  as well as our nation.

This series is a timeless lesson for all us Gideons - unsure of ourselves, aware of weaknesses, afraid of the powerful who seem to oppress us.  But as it says in that great chapter of Faith:

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets,
33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,
34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

Hebrews 8 (NIV)

If you have a chance, please check out this study, as we continue our journey in the ...

Biblia Files.


Recent posts in this series:

Biblia Files (part 1) - Thru the Bible (2013)

Biblia Files (part 2) - What is the Bible Basically About? (2013)


Photo from: amazon/Gideon