Tuesday, January 09, 2018

No Consideration for Rights Abandoned

During the last year, we have heard many stories about freedom of speech in the work place. These have come from a variety of people including NFL players and conservative Google employees. Is freedom of speech protected at work? The answer is not very clear.

However, during the 19th century, one man faced opposition for what he wrote about politics during his own time. After publishing articles under an assumed name, the clerk of the office of the Secretary of the United States Senate was confronted by his superior for expressing his opposition to the election of Andrew Jackson (1829-37). Apparently, his pseudonym had not hidden his identity very well.

Was it inappropriate for him to express his views outside of the workplace because of his position? In other words, should government officials be quiet about their political leanings on their own time? While there may be times when one's position should prohibit his mouth from talking too freely, this clerk was not so inclined.

"Upon entering the public office, I engaged to perform, to the best of my ability, a known and prescribed duty; to conform to the instructions of the head of the office relating to that duty; and to receive as an equivalent for the services thus rendered, not as a consideration for rights abandoned, the compensation which might be allowed by law. But I never did engage to become an automaton or machine; to look on unmoved, or without effort, when I should see the republic institution of my country in danger, or to surrender a single right of an American citizen.

In the office and during the hours devoted to its duties, I acknowledge and obey an official superior. When my official duty has closed, I stand on an equal footing with any man that breathes. In the hours of relaxation from the toil and drudgery of office, my thoughts shall wander as discursive as the air; my opinions, uncontrolled by human authority, shall be embodied in any form my judgment shall approve; ... it shall be my endeavor to treasure up these precious fragments of existence, and devote them to objects which I may deem beneficial to my family or society, and pleasing to that Being who has the time of all at his command."1

Lewis H. Machen (1790-1863)

Machen wasn't willing to give in to pressure just because someone disapproved of his opinions. He stood up for what he believed and continued speaking despite the frowns of those who were over him. While opinions may need to be held back at work, there is no law in the United States holding back the free expression of ideas at other times, nor should there be.


1As quoted in J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir by Ned B. Stonehouse.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

What boys read in 1914

During a trip to the local Goodwill store, I found an old book under the glass display case. The book is called The Capture and Pursuit by Roger T. Finlay and seems to be part of a series called The Wonder Island Boys. I have only read the first few chapters, so I can't tell you if I would recommend it. However, it was interesting to stumble across this section on pages 50-51.

The Professor smiles at the remembrance, as he said: "That might be called the 'tree of life' in our case. It has been said that trees and wood saved the world twice."

"How?" asked several of the boys in concert.

"John Evelyn said, 'Trees and woods have twice saved the world, first by the Ark, then by the cross; making full amends for the evil fruit of the tree in Paradise, by that which was borne on the tree at Golgotha.'"

That was not something I expected after a battle with savages in the previous chapters. But it was a nice surprise. Most adventure books, even the original Tom Swift and Hardy Boys novels, had only veiled references to church attendance on Sundays. But for some reason, this book added something rather direct. It would be nice to find a good series of adventure books for children and teens which point people to Jesus.

A current option is what Karen Meyer has been writing over the past few years. Her historical novels are well written and interesting. You can see her books and profile here.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Hymn: What Think Ye of Christ?

What think ye of Christ? is the test
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of him;
As Jesus appears in your view,
As he is beloved or not,
So God is disposed to you,
And mercy, or wrath are your lot.

Some take him a creature to be,
A man, or an angel at most:
Sure these have not feelings like me,
Nor know themselves wretched, and lost;
So guilty, so helpless, am I,
I durst not confide in his blood;
Nor on his protection rely,
Unless I were sure he is God.

Some call him a Savior in word,
But mix their own works with their plan;
And hope he his help will afford,
When they have done all that they can;
If sayings prove rather too light,
(A little they own they may fail)
They purpose to make up full weight,
By casting his name in the the scale.

Some style him the pearl of great price,
And say he's the fountain of joys,
Yet feed upon folly and vice,
And cleave to the world and its toys;
Like Judas, the Savior they kiss,
And while they salute him, betray;
Ah! what will professions like this
Avail in his terrible day.

If ask'd what of Jesus I think,
Although my best thoughts are but poor;
I say he's my meat and my drink,
My life, and my strength, and my store,
My shepherd, my husband, my friend,
My savior from sin, and from thrall,
My hope from beginning to end,
My portion, my Lord, and my all.

—John Newton

Friday, October 06, 2017

Why did God allow the Las Vegas massacre to happen?

The news media has been presenting their solutions for what happened in Las Vegas. After so many people were killed and wounded, some wonder where God was when it all happened. One man angrily responded, “I can’t bow down to a God who allows this kind of stuff to happen. Why does He never show up at the same time evil does?”

A Christian writer answered his questions with two points: (1) Satan was the instigator of what happened – not God. Satan’s constant desire is to influence people with evil and to destroy them. Why, then, should God be blamed for what Satan is doing? (2) We often miss what God does during these tragedies. Did anyone notice how God enabled people to stop the shooter, to rescue the wounded, and bring together the community in the time of need? God was at work during this terrible massacre and without His help, it would have been worse.

But we must also consider a third and more uncomfortable truth. (3) Most people have rejected God and do not want his hand in their lives. During everyday life, many Americans have no use for God. They only mention his name when it is convenient or when they can blame him for a tragedy like this. People tend to want a God who does what they want instead of the One who requires submission to His will. So, how can He be blamed by those who reject Him on every other day of the week?

We may never completely understand why God allows tragedies to take place. However, we must not forget that Satan’s influence and man’s sinfulness are to blame for what happened this time. God is against evil, but it still exists and causes harm to many. Please remember that God is good and desires what is best. We may wonder why this happened, but perhaps the more important question is whether we are willing to turn from our wicked ways and trust Him.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

1 Peter 5:2-3

"People will chafe under the rule of a tyrant, but they will follow a pastor who is modeling the way to live. The pastor's leadership is not something he demands, but it is something he earns by his life and office."

Adult Bible Study Leader's Guide to Living in Hostile Territory by Regular Baptist Press

Friday, September 15, 2017

Was my faith enough?

How many times has someone doubted their salvation? For me it was many times as a child. I knew that Jesus died for me. I knew my need for repentance and faith. But it was not until someone said something like that below that my doubts went away. Commenting on Colossians 1:4, Harry Ironside said this:

“People are troubled sometimes for fear their faith should not be of the right quality, or might prove of insufficient quantity to save them. But it is important to observe that it is not the character nor amount of faith that saves. It is the Person in whom faith rests.”

H. A. Ironside, Lectures on the Epistle to the Colossians, Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1929, p. 23.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Changing the Weather

During prayer meeting tonight, we will be looking at Mark 4:35-41. There we read about Jesus commanding the raging wind and sea to be still during a fierce storm at sea. When the winds and waves responded to his commands, his astonished disciples learned something about Jesus. Their question, "What manner of man is this?," is answered well by one of the Bible commentators:

"Much that is wrong on earth can be corrected. There are mothers who dry tears, repairmen who fix machines, surgeons who remove diseased tissues, counselors who solve family problems, etc. As to correcting the weather? People talk about it, to be sure. But it takes deity to change the weather. It is Jesus who commands the elements of the weather, with the result that even the wind obeys him, and so does the sea."

William Hendriksen, Mark, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004, pp. 180-81.

Jesus is God who became man. Although he experienced the same humanity that we do, he did not cease to be God. He still was omnipotent and this is clearly seen in Mark's account of what happened. No human can control the weather. Only God can. So, who is this man. Jesus is God.