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Archive for the ‘Christianity in Political History’ Category

barnhouse

My husband and I were driving to town when we passed a white clapboard house nestled under big shade trees. Standing tall and sturdy next to the house, just the right amount of space to the left was a big, old barn. It reminded me of a knight standing ready to protect his lady.

A For Sale sign was in the yard.

“Your house is for sale,” my husband said. He knows how much I love old houses. This one was a red tin-roofed, two-story with a balcony above the front porch. A house with a porch – a real porch, wide enough for a swing and chairs. It had lots of windows, too. A house with lots of windows looks like a house where its inhabitants chose happiness. It seems like it would be filled with stories of people who loved life fully, both inside and out.

A house with a barn, or a barn with a house, would know of barn owls, chipmunks, barn cats and sparrows, goats, chickens, dogs, and cows. Maybe lambs, too. Wheel barrows, water troughs, muck rakes, forks, hammers and crowbars wouldn’t gather dust or get lost from lack of use. A weather vane, too – on top of the barn, along with a barometer. I wonder if that would be more reliable than television weather forecasters and radar.

Words and phrases like seed-time, reaping a harvest and storehouse would be common place. Plowing, gathering, threshing and winnowing, knowing how to collect wood for and how to build a fire – well, those would be every day living things, every day working out the physical examples of God’s spiritual principles. I think that would help his spiritual message plant somewhere deep in our souls.

About four weeks ago, they  tore down that white clapboard farmhouse that had stood beside its barn for longer than a lifetime – to make way for a new neighborhood. Bulldozers and gravel trucks bellowed freely now between where the house had been and the barn stood, its life companion gone. I pulled in and took a photo of the barn before they tore it down, too. What good is an empty barn in a field replaced with yards and houses? A few days later, it was bulldozed down. They didn’t take it apart to rebuild somewhere else. A heap of brokenness, someone burned it up a few days ago. It saddens me.

It saddens me, just like it saddens me that my great-grandmother and grandfather’s farmhouse burned down after my Uncle Jim died. The milk barn is overgrown with weeds and viney things that wouldn’t have been allowed to grow near either the house or the barn. The barn roof is falling in. Sometimes, I want to go back, to feel the stories, to sit on the porch steps worn with the footprints of those whose story set up mine, whose faith stories have become a storehouse of blessing, a rich spiritual inheritance that point to relationship with God. But the porch, along with the house, are no longer there for sitting and remembering.

The stories are being forgotten – and the buildings aren’t there to retell them. These stories, they’re the love and faith stories, these farmhouses and barns. If the walls could talk, they would tell over-coming stories, forgiveness stories, being born and born again stories, funny stories, loss and crying stories, cat and mouse stories, laughing stories, every day ordinary stories, growing up stories, feast and famine stories.

barnhouse848484dcThe farmhouse remembers the children’s bedtimes and where the jam, apples, butter and potatoes were stored. It knows what Christmas smelled like and what the cooling breeze in summer hotness felt like.  It knows the sound of big and little feet on the floorboards and which steps creak in the stairwell. It knows the goodnight stories and songs, and the sound of little ones breathing in sleep and the bigger ones sawing in sleep. It knows the challenges that spilled over, disrupting its peace, shaking its hope and faith.  It knows how the hard was softened, and that love which never gives up lasts a lifetime. The farmhouse, while a hive of activity, is where the place of refreshing lives, where the broken can be made whole.  It is where God’s word is read and then walked out to the barn, to the neighbors, and into town.

The farmhouse and the barn,
a boy and his girl,
a mom and a dad,
a grandmother and grandfather,
a barn and his farmhouse,
a farmhouse and her barn,

It’s a love story of give and take, provision and comfort,

of small town entrepreneurs in charge of their own destiny

where a full barn allows a house to become a home full of heart.

the barn is like the spirit of a man, the farmhouse the spirit of the woman

a symbiotic kind-of-love

He braves the harsh elements to fill the barn with the stuff comfort and security are made from. From the storehouses of barn he brings – and from the heart of the house, she gives. . . .

He gives her the grain – and she gives back bread.

He gives her the wool – and she gives back scarves, hats, sweaters and socks.

He gives her the cotton – and she stitches together crazy quilts for the bitter cold times.

He tears and she mends.

He gives honor and love; and she gives it right back.

He gives her trust to be who she is, and she gives him respect to be who he is.

He invites God into every dusty corner of the barn of himself,
and she invites God into every corner of the farmhouse of herself.

He gives her children, and she gives him a legacy,
but together they give their children an inheritance of blessing.

Each gives the other purpose; one without the other are incomplete.

Side by side,
storm after storm,
quiet after quiet,
year after year
the farmhouse and her barn
the barn and his farmhouse

They just might fade from memory, may even be exchanged for a different kind of living. The inheritance, though, it runs deep into the very fiber of a God-designed DNA. While the barn might be torn down, along with the farmhouse, and the faith and love stories forgotten, God redeems the faith, hope and love in story – he has the floor plan to rebuild what was forgotten, to redeem those who belong to the story.

The farmhouse and the barn,
a boy and his girl,
a mom and a dad,
a grandmother and grandfather
who built something more
than a barn and a farmhouse

“Listen, dear friends, to God’s truth,
bend your ears to what I tell you.
I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb;
I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths,
Stories we heard from our fathers,
counsel we learned at our mother’s knee.
We’re not keeping this to ourselves,
we’re passing it along to the next generation—
God’s fame and fortune,
the marvelous things he has done” ~ Psalm 78: 1-6

**None of the farmhouses pictured belong to the barns in the photographs. The first barn above is the one I discuss. The first house is one that was torn down a few years ago.

barn2222222

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,” ~ Proverbs 13:22a

 

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Note: The Robin Hood part was written in early July during my surgery convalescence when I had the opportunity to watch movies, i.e. Robin Hood – all versions, but especially my favorite. I kept wondering what God wanted me to do with it and today He let me know. This post lines up with my mission statement: The Faith, Love and Politics of Raising Boys to Men.

I also realize this is an unusually long post but it is my birthday week – where I turn 5 decades or 2 score and 10 years – and, while that is really a mighty selfish-excuse to torture such a lovely community with a Moby Dick-esque Tome of a Post, I’m taking full advantage of officially becoming old as dirt!!!! LOL

In the Beginning

Once upon a time, which is always a very long, long time ago, a loving Father created a Garden of Eden for the children He created. There was to be no king, no ruler, no dictator, president, no master, no slave – just a Father-child relationship – whether that child was itty bitty or grown fully.

The Father loved these children, making himself garments of skin for them out of the animals he created, feeding them sweet fruits he designed, allowing their creativity to grow through loving, generous acts of freedom like allowing them to name the animals. Can you imagine how your child would name the animals? I’ve often wondered how Adam and Eve grew to speak – one word at a time? Or did the Father pour language into them?

Many, many years later, He sat with one of the descendants of Adam and Even and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them. . . so shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5).

One mother and father at a time, those offspring grew to be countless like the stars in the heavens. God no longer sat with them in their tents so much or out under the stars. These children’s children grew more like the world, sometimes forgetting the Father only to remember when times toughened.

Conflict Rising: And the Trouble Starts

Until one day, they decided they wanted a king. Other peoples had kings – and, well, the decided they wanted one, too. So they sought out the prophet because they were kind of scared of the Father in those times and begged the prophet to ask God to set a king over them.

“So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you:

  • he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.  
  • And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.
  • He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.  
  • He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.
  •  He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.  
  • He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work.  
  • He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.
  • And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day” (1 Samuel 8:10-18)

Hope in the Rising Conflict

God found a good man, the best man, filled him with His Holy Spirit, allowing Saul to become more than he was – what every man had the opportunity to be with God and the Holy Spirit – but everyman didn’t want that

“Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man”(1 Samuel 10:6)

“When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart” (1 Samuel 10: 9) – something the Father was willing to do for every child of His – but only one man was willing to allow his brokenness to be made whole.

“Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord” (1 Samuel 10:25)

In this book were written things like this:

“When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel” (Deuteronomy 18: 18-20)

Learning Lessons the Hard Way
(Why you Don’t Want Someone Between You and God)

Through many hundreds of years later, many kings later – the children and children’s children met with good, noble, Godly leaders and ignoble, oppressive, cruel, selfish, ungodly leaders.

The Father, He would send Heroes to save His children from the yoke of oppressive leaders – especially when those children remembered Him, crying out to be saved. How many learned to cry out because their children were suffering? How that changes our view of our need for the Father!

God knew a King wouldn’t nurture or love His children like He would. God knew the  potential for abuse – for leaders to set aside His laws and install tyranny.

He knew.

Power in the hands of man risks becoming political – and when one rules to increase power, the freedom of the regular man, the every day man, the child of God becomes smaller.

That day so long ago when the Children of Israel cried out for a King – they handed over their freedom that day, trusting a man with all his potential for strengths and weakness, to rule selflessly like the Father.

When America was born out of religious persecution, when the freedom spirit inside man remembered itself, placed their by God in creation– and cried out to throw the yoke of tyranny from its back –

  • checks and balances were put in place to ensure that no man became king, that no man would wrestle away the freedom of their faith,
  • That no man’s family could be carried off into slavery – a goal we started with and ultimately achieved.
  • That no man’s work of his hands could be confiscated for another’s coffers.
  • That no man would die for worshipping the father.
  • That no government would force its citizens into immorality (think of how America handled Alvin C York’s right to be a conscientious objector)

The Declaration of Independence was born out of men seeking God’s kind of Freedom, taking out the middle man (the King) to live face-to-face with the Father.

The Part with the Robin Hood
(i.e. the Freedom Fighter, the one who takes out the middle man)

Watching Robin Hood last month with Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland was a similar thread woven into the history of kingship and rulers, whether historically, through fairy tales, legends, fables or myths, men stand up to abusive governments and rulers who encroach on God-given inalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Robin Hood: “I’ll organize revolt, exact a death for a death, and I’ll never rest until every Saxon in this shire can stand up free men and strike a blow for Richard and England.”

Sheriff: You think you’re overtaxed, eh?

Robin: Overtaxed, overworked, and paid off with a knife, a club, or a rope.

Marian: Why, you speak treason.

Robin: Fluently”(Robin Hood, with Errol Flynn)

Watching Robin Hood that night, I thought of the challenges our country faces today, the history of the power of leadership since Saul was anointed – and how fraught that kind of leadership is without men willing to stand up to ensure that leadership stays noble, true and loving each person like the Father intended.

I’ve always heard, “Robin Hood – he steals from the rich to give to the poor.”

This definition of Robin Hood grates on me.

Because it is not true.

Robin Hood stood for Freedom against Tyranny, much like the Sons of Freedom did during the American Revolution.

The working class in Robin Hood’s day, the baker, the butcher, the blacksmith, the farmer, the tradesman were over-burdened with taxes confiscated brutally by a government that sought more and more of their earnings. If they couldn’t pay their taxes, they burnt their houses or confiscated their property, tortured the poor citizen and his family, possibly even hanging, burning or stuffing in a barrel, sealing it and filling it with wine so victim drowned.

Robin Hood, like the Sons of Liberty, fought to remove the government’s taxational foot off the producing neck of the people.

Robin sought to restore to the people their livelihood, their productivity, the ability to provide for their families, the ability to control their own destiny through a healthy work ethic spirit-fed with faith and honor to the Father.

Robin Hood stole from an over-reaching government to return to the working class what was rightfully theirs.

I think Robin Hood was a small-government kind of guy . . . . which was what God intended in the first place.

Restoration takes Work

I think God knew good leadership would require vigilance on the part of the people. We were not created for oppressive leadership. We were not created for big government. As I have said many times before, there is no generosity of spirit without choice.

jpreziosi created this with a Blue Cotton Memory quote in 2009

God designed us to choose to feed the beggar, to help the widow, the sick, the homeless, the lost.

When we give the best of our work to God, and then give the best of the work of our hands to those in need, then we remain in charge of the morality of our hearts.

When we rely on a government to collect the work of our hands to give to those in need, then the government makes those moral decisions for us.

Do you feel comfortable with the decisions and choices your government is making today in your name? Do those expenditures and rules line up with your beliefs – because your name is on that signature.

Robin Hood lost all in his quest for restoring right. He stood up to his community leaders and fought for those who could not fight for themselves.

Just like Paul Revere, George Washington, the Sons of Liberty, the signers of the Constitution.

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security” (Declaration of Independence).

Some historians believe that George Washington leading the American people to freedom was similar to Moses leading the children of Israel out of slavery. Many years later, those very same people would cry out for a King (i.e. big government to come between them and God)

Let us not repeat history and cry out for a King (i.e. big government) to take care of us.

There have been lots of heroes throughout history, a king called David, soldiers who fought to save the innocent – and the greatest hero of all, Jesus Christ.

“Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?  Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away”(Matthew 22:17-22)

Let us be a country who from the littlest person to the biggest renders all the God – from our hearts, to our pockets to what is in those pockets, to our time, to the work of our hands, to how we minister to the hurting, hopeless and hungry.

Let us be a country of  people living face-to-face with God, not a go-between, not a government.

Let us be a people sitting outside our homes, counting the stars with the Father, one-on-one – just the way He intended.

The End
(Or is it really the beginning)

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A few weeks ago, I posted an article, Congress Shall Make No Law Concerning Tebowing and Other Religious Freedoms. I decided a little grammar lesson would help clarify one section: defining 2 prepositions. Who would ever think prepositions could really make a powerful difference – yet they do.

A preposition can go through a law, above a law, below a law, with a law, behind a law, against a law, around a law, opposite a law, outside a law – just like our judicial system.

NPR recently did a piece on Tim Tebow. One commenter said our country ought to have “Freedom from Religion.”  Another suggested he should be penalized 15 yards for making unbelievers uncomfortable – that football should be a “religi-osity”-free zone.

Freedom of Religion: of used as “an act of determining; “to fix conclusively or authoritatively(Merriam Webster)”; “Hence of is the sign of the genitive case, the case that denotes production; proceeding out of, and a derivative sense denoting possession or property”(1828 Noah Webster Dictionary).

Freedom from Religion: from used as a function word to indicate physical separation or an act or condition of removal, abstention, exclusion, release, subtraction, or differentiation.

Words make a difference.

Freedom from Religion, that is not what our Constitution says – and words have meaning, legal meaning. The U.S. Constitution is a Contract with U.S. people.

Whoever said grammar was boring didn’t understand the games that could be played with it – or the freedoms that could be lost by not grasping the depth and breadth of each word’s legal power – even in a seemingly silly little preposition.

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