Civil War?

The American Civil war was a difficult Time for Britain. Relations with the U.S. were often difficult in the 19 century with conflicts arising from time to time and sometimes the threat of war.Image result for british  neutrality in the american civil war political cartoon

When the War Between the States started Britain declared itself neutral, but although violently opposed to slavery it sympathized with the South’s desire for independence. Britain got most of the cotton for its great textile industry from the South and the war would cause great hardship for the mill workers.

This mutual dependence caused the Confederacy to pressure the British government to recognize it and provide support. The fact was Britain had sold arms to them in the past and this was to cause problems with relations with the north.

The north on the other hand expected England to support it and clamp down on smugglers and southern attempts to build commerce raiders in British shipyards.

To make matters worse the general population in the British Isles came down on either side of the struggle and many private citizens went to their favoured side and enlisted. Some foreigners had no choice and were shanghaied into enlisting in the armies of either side and the British government was forever trying to get them released.

As the war see-sawed and the death toll increased there was increased pressure for England and France to intervene and stop the bloodshed. The South especially had agents in Europe seeking to affect public opinion and bring the various governments down on their side. The North had counter agents to undermine their efforts.

In the north there was great hostility to Britain,the British government had grave  fears of U.S. invasion of Canada and that if the South was defeated The U.S. would attack British interests and England itself.

When the South was finally defeated, there was a great move to make Britain pay one way or another. Perhaps the reason why there was no war was due to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The outpouring of sympathy in Britain was such that both countries were reminded of their common blood and history and humanity. The horrors of the civil war were such that for a while at least the thought of another war was abhorrent.https://granosalispaullocandro.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/e796b-johntennielcartoon2.jpg?w=660

For the Christian, finding the right thing to do in a horrible situation is perplexing and bewildering. They often ask themselves “What would Jesus do”? This does not always solve the problem. Jesus was God as well as man, sin excepted. All His actions were as Lord of creation and the Saviour of the World. We are fallible human beings and there is much sin remaining in all our actions.

Perhaps it is a start to look at what motivates us. Is the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ our chief aim in our decisions and actions? We could ask ourself more often,” Am I looking for the easy way out? “What would glorify Christ in this problem and situation”?

In the war we as Christian are waging there are many enemies yet we are taught to love them. There are many belligerents yet we are called upon to bring them the message of salvation and peace. We are not popular for the stance we take but we take it because Christ took it in the first place.

Where was God?

The first things Atheists among others say in the face of terror and disaster is where was God? They make a creed of denyng the existence of God and then blame Him for all the ills of the World. They cannot have it both ways.

The Christian  looks at it from God’s perspective. Man’s suffering results from his rejection of God and living only to himself. God has in Christ opened the door but man closes it on himself.

If man perishes the blame lies only with himself and his rejection of salvation freely offered. If man is saved it is to the glory of God who extends grace to the undeserving and ill deserving.

No one wants to see suffering in the world but if it results in people turning to God in contrition and repentance it is not in vain.

The Marble man.

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Robert Edward Lee was universally admired during the American Civil war. He was called the “marble man”because many historians could find no flaws in his character.

He was a man of high moral character, who acted from principal and great courage and daring. The Union had offered him command of their forces but he refused to draw his sword against his home state of Virginia. Even many enemies of the confederacy in the North respected him and wished he was theirs.

He never referred to the federals as the enemy but referred to them as “those people”.

When one looks at the slaughter and suffering the war caused on both sides one can only wonder how such a man could be involved in such cause. Had He stood boldly on the cause of peace and reconciliation ,maybe the war would not have occurred or  had even  been shortened?

Even good men can go astray and do things that they think are based on good intentions and high principles.

How greatly we need God’s guidance to lead us in the correct paths and if we do go astray to lead us back to the path God has placed us on to follow Christ.

Civil War?

When the world goes sour!

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.1 John 2:15-17

 

I ran into a friend from a previous workplace who I run into periodically. This time he gave me a list of the bad things that had occurred to him in the previous year. Like “Job’s” messengers they came one after another.

When all goes well for us the world seems a wonderful place. It is full of experiences and opportunities and pleasures.

Yet when sickness, poverty or grief come into our lives the glitter starts to flake off and the grim reality sinks in.fear-despair-ron1

This is not to say that there are no genuine good things in the world but rather that they are fickle and fleeting and they come to an end.

This is always the danger in making the things of this world an end in themselves. The non believer may be excused somewhat because this world and its goods are all he knows about. For the Christian who should know better, seeking the good things of this world as the, be all and end all, is self defeating folly.

The puritans use to say that we should treat this world as an inn. We enjoy the meal and the soft bed but always remembering that it is only a stopping off place and that tomorrow we must head home. We must not hold earthly things too tight as we soon may lose them and are less able to grasp the things of God which are eternal and do not perish in the using.

In the same way we should react to the bad things of this life in a different spirit and way than the unbeliever.

To him bad things shake them to the foundation and tear down the structure they have spent so much time cobbling together. They either grit their teeth, curse their luck and try and re-build or worst of all they yield to despair and go where that often leads.

The Christian has the same  habitual tendencies and often reacts in the same ways. Little faith sees the boat sinking and cries out in fear and “despairs of life”.

Christ teaches us that this world is not all that there is and that there are worse things than death. He calls upon us to turn to him and make him our most precious possession and our spiritual health more important than our physical health. Faith in Him is a light held aloft in our darkest hour and a soothing touch in our greatest pain.

Let us pray that many come to him and seek the grace and salvation of Jesus Christ that makes life worthwhile and makes men and women, boys and girls, citizens of heaven in the midst of a fading world.

Propaganda

During the Second World War, governments to boost their war efforts, engaged in propaganda to persuade the citizens of their nations to behave and act in certain ways. The Germans, through Joseph Goebbels were ceaseless in their propaganda efforts.

In the U.S. the might of” Hollywood” and “Star’ power were used to convince people that the war against the “axis “powers was just and a fight against true evil.

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Men were encouraged to enlist in the services. People were told to recycle, save money, buy war bonds and be careful what they said in case “loose lips” sank a ship.

They were told that despite their suffering, deprivations and loss of loved ones, victory was certain and the world would be a better and more peaceful place because of their sacrifices.

Anything which went against the picture they were trying to paint was hushed up or minimized.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of propaganda, it is something which is still being peddled by the powers that be. Look at advertising  which persuade you to buy their product and the spin merchants who try to influence public opinion.

There is no doubt Satan is the great “propagandist”. He has the world believing that there is no God. He tells them that this world is all there is and they must live life to the full  even if they spend more than they earn to achieve it. If other people get in the way or suffer because of their efforts, that’s too bad. They can indulge themselves to the full in sin and self-pleasing and need never fear the consequences.

I fear the church and Christians try propaganda of their own in trying to bring people within the doors of the church. They know they are selling an unpopular message so they use means to accomplish their ends which savour more of an “ad” agency than the body of Christ.

To be convincing propaganda must have a kernel of truth or the ring of truth to be believable.

Christianity and the proclamation of Jesus Christ however, must be the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth because Jesus himself proclaimed “I am the truth”.

 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

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God sweetens outward pain with inward peace.

—Thomas Watson

When the world goes sour!

Not thine but Thee!

There is always the possibility that God’s gifts are valued and sought after more than God Himself. The children of Israel spent 40 years living on the gracious bounty of God and yet the majority never really sought Him and perished in the wilderness.

Also we can see our blessings, material and otherwise as automatic signs of God’s favour while our afflictions are almost always the result of God’s wrath or maybe indifference.

At a time when Martin Luther was quite prosperous he begged the Lord not to “fob” him off as it were, with the things of this world. How many of our “health and wealth” gurus would do the same?

(Many could probably pray that God would not merely grant them the passing “spiritual high” associated with many of our worship services, but rather give them a daily and constant sense of his presence.)

The fact is prosperity brings with it as many problems as poverty. The prosperous Christian is prone to get dizzy with his position and put to must trust in riches and super “spirituality”. The poor Christian is prone to grumble at God’s stinting him in the good things of life or great pleasure of high spiritual attainments.

Either way instead of seeking God first and foremost the gift supersedes the giver. This is something we need to beware of constantly.

Future Grace

John Piper in his book of this name puts the case that our motivation for Christian living comes from faith in God’s future grace to us. I think that he is saying that grace shown to us in the past must give us faithful confidence in God’s giving grace in the future.

We do have a tendency to live on grace we have received in the past and when that runs out we make up the shortfall by extra human effort.

In our superficial spirituality we give little thought to where our continuance in Christianity comes from, so that when we feel dull and empty in the things of Christ we either fall asleep or use artificial means to keep up our Christianity.

None of us likes to live hand to mouth but even in day to day life we must resort to the same sources day by day and week to week.

That God is bountiful and gracious giver is beyond doubt, our part is to be constant in our seeking of him for our natural and spiritual sustenance. Not merely for our own ends but to grow in closeness to Christ and share our grace with the household of faith and the world at large.

God does not change; He can be trusted for grace in the future. Our own sin and mistrust rob us of blessing which strong faith in Him gives.

He will not however let us place anything in His stead ,not even His own gifts.

As in all things the Christian is to be vigilant in self watch over his motives and ends.

Not thine but Thee!