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Who are we?

The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hymns of the Church – King of Glory, King of Peace – 30 October 2018, Anno Domini

L
IFTup your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah   (Psalm 24:7-10)
            This hymn of praise was composed by the renowned Anglican cleric, poet, and orator, George Herbert, in 1632, and published posthumously in 1633. The favored tune is GWALCHMAI, by Joseph D. Jones in 1868.
King of Glory, King of Peace
King of glory, King of peace, 
I will love thee; 
and that love may never cease, 
I will move thee. 
Thou hast granted my request, 
thou hast heard me; 
thou didst note my working breast, 
thou hast spared me.
Wherefore with my utmost art 
I will sing thee, 
and the cream of all my heart 
I will bring thee. 
Though my sins against me cried, 
thou didst clear me; 
and alone, when they replied, 
thou didst hear me.
Seven whole days, not one in seven, 
I will praise thee; 
in my heart, though not in heaven, 
I can raise thee. 
Small it is, in this poor sort 
to enroll thee: 
e'en eternity's too short 
to extol thee.
            King of glory, King of peace, I will love thee; and that love may never cease, I will move thee. Thou hast granted my request, thou hast heard me; thou didst note my working breast, thou hast spared me.A King exercises sovereign power over a nation and her people. There are boundaries to his domain. The King of Glory, which is our Lord Jesus Christ, likewise exercises authority over the Church, which is modern Israel, and her people. But His power extends beyond these only and is unlimited for boundary; for He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His dominion includes all Creation. We are reminded in Proverbs: When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.(Prov 29:2)The saints are only able to love our Lord because He first loved us. We love him, because he first loved us(1 John 4:19)If we do not regard iniquity in our hearts and pray according to His will to answer, He will hear our prayers and be moved thereby. Our prayers can even move in the actions of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He reads our hearts as easily as a highway billboard, and He spares us from the fire. He is our Savior above all else.
            Wherefore with my utmost art I will sing thee, and the cream of all my heart I will bring thee.   Though my sins against me cried, thou didst clear me; and alone, when they replied, thou didst hear me.Our utmost art in singing comes from a passionate joy in the glorifying of our Lord. Even a country bard may embellish his song with beauty when the heart is warmed by the Holy Ghost. When I was a boy at the end of WWII, the milk man delivered our milk in glass bottles. There was always a layer of cream at the top so that the milk needed to be shaken before pouring. The essence of the milk (cream) had risen to the top. The same is true of the Christian heart. The only goodness we own is that endowed to us by Christ. That essence of our hearts will always rise to the top. The Holy Spirit is the sovereign of our hearts and brings the Lord near in times of prayer, worship, and song. Our sins are written large in the indictment against our souls, but the Lord clears our name and will not ascribe our sins against our account on the day of reckoning. How does He do that? By imparting His spotless charge sheet to us. We are accounted innocent because of His imputed righteousness.  
            Seven whole days, not one in seven, I will praise thee; in my heart, though not in heaven, I can raise thee. Small it is, in this poor sort to enroll thee: e'en eternity's too short to extol thee. Christ has become our Passover in that He fulfilled the prophetic marks of the True Passover Lamb. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God(1 Peter 1:18-21)He became our Passover. The former animal sacrifices were only shades and shadows of the true Passover which is Christ. Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.(1 Cor 5:7).  Christ has become ALL things to us: our Savior, our Lord, our King, our Redeemer, our Passover, and what else? He is also our Sabbath. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief(Hebrews 4:9-11)

            The word ‘rest’ in the above passage is ‘Sabbatismos’ – meaning REST. He has become our Sabbath. He fulfilled the Law. He did not annul our obligation for Sabbath, but made it more stringent. Now it is not one day in seven that we worship and serve the Lord, and rest from OUR labors; but rather SEVEN days in seven. If Christ labors through us, it is not our labors but His that is operative in our lives; and we rest from OUR labors and lean on the works of the Lord in and through us. Every day is our Lord’s Day and every day a Sabbath!
            The concluding line is a stark reminder that Eternity awaits ahead, and all will spend eternity in some state – either glorious or ignominious. But even that Eternity future will not be sufficient to extol the glories and beauty of Christ. 
            Why not sing, even if alone, a hymn of beauty to Christ even at this moment?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sermon Notes - Forgiven and Unforgiving - Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 28 October 2018, Anno Domini


The Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity
The Collect.


L
ORD we beseech thee to keep thy household the Church in continual godliness; that through thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in good works, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
 
The Epistle
Philippians i. 3.

I
 THANKmy God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The Gospel
Matt 18:21-35

T
HENcame Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

            Today’s texts and prayers remind us of the great debt we owe our God in the forgiveness of our sins; and of what an awesome responsibility we are obliged to observe in forgiving those tiny sins which we believe are lodged against us by our fellow man.

            The debt we owe is so enormous, and far beyond our meager ability to pay, that the only salvation must depend upon the generosity of another to pay that debt. That OTHER is Jesus Christ.

            Reading the last part of the Prayer of Collect today, one might be led to believe that the first aim of the Church is to serve God in good works; but that assumption misses the central point. It is God’s Holy Ghost that keeps the Church centered on God’s will and purpose, and maintains the Church in godliness through the revealed Word of God. Our efforts at ‘being good enough’ always fail of accomplishment.  Only in its dependence upon the Providence and protection of God can the Church be free from all adversities. It is when the heart of the Church is centered upon God’s perfect will that it can be devoutly given to good works. The good works of the Church are the fruit that issues from sound faith and doctrine. Without faith, we are totally incapable of good works. We must be God-Like if we are His children. That quality enables us to forgive sins against us even as we are forgiven.

            Paul echoes the sentiment of the Prayer Book Prayer of Absolution in assigning whatever good work that has ensued from his preaching to be solely to the glory and keeping of God. The officiate at worship in the Anglican Church does not forgive a single sin or absolve a single soul of sin. He merely pronounces that it is the will of God to forgive all who earnestly repent. The arrogance of Rome has led to the ungodly error of believing that the priest can forgive or absolve sin. The Pharisees challenged Jesus when He forgave the man with palsy of his sin. They said, “Only God can forgive sins.” The Pharisees were right – only God can forgive sins. Their tragic mistake was in failing to recognize Christ as God Himself. When you think of it, how can a sinner forgive sins of other sinners – and, of course, ministers are sinners, too? It is reprehensible that a pretentious minister would ever claim that authority which belongs ONLY to God.

            It is very timely that our Gospel text today will address forgiveness for it is a component of every worship service, but also of everyday life for the Christian. So many errors have grown up around the law of forgiveness, and many are deceived by blind guides who urge forgiveness of every trespass against us even when the offender does not ask. If a criminal broke into your home and began murdering every member of your household beginning with your tender young daughter, would you forgive him with each additional murder, or would you take action to defend your family by neutralizing the murderer? It is absolute nonsense to preach, or believe, that we must go about simply forgiving every cruel act of the wicked. This false teaching has led to a sterile American church in which no discipline or defense can be possible against the ungodly among us.

            This fact is so clearly and unmistakably brought out in our Gospel text. Peter, seeking to appear quite pious and proper, asks the Lord: “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” Seven is considered a very divine and complete number, so Peter chooses this number to gain favor to himself. He believes that he is being over-generous in his charity to forgive. The answer Christ returns is one which most probably shocked, not only Peter, but all those other disciples listening. Jesus responds: “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Well, this number is very great, and made up of two perfect multipliers: 7x10x7 = 490. Please do not get bogged down with counting how many times you have forgiven your neighbor until you reach this magic figure – that is not the meaning. A talent was of an enormous value, and every sin is of enormous magnitude. King David says that his sins were more than the hairs on his head – and David was not bald! “. . . . mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.” (Psalms 40:12) The meaning which Christ conveyed was that there should be an indefinite and limitless number of times that we must grant forgiveness to those who seek it. There is a reason for this large number which I will explain later. If we forgive as many as 490 times, forgiveness will become an imbedded habit of life (as it should be).

I saw a very erroneous and misleading quote on Facebook the other day which showed a large man pointing at his young child and saying: “You must forgive everyone their sins whether they ask for it or not!” What a lie from Hell. This idea is not Godly and nowhere found in Scripture. Jesus uses a parable of two different men to illustrate the real nature of forgiveness – one of a King who forgives a servant, and of the servant who does not forgive. 

            Before getting into this account of the King and the ungrateful servant, let us consider, seriously, the nature of forgiveness that God has granted to you. When you fully confirmed, or accepted, Christ as your Lord and Savior, you prayed for forgiveness of all of your sins. God did, at that very moment, forgive you of all of your sins – but not a moment before your repentance of them. There must have been a very large multitude of sins for which you were forgiven – certainly a number exceeding 490 Since that time, unless you are a very exceptional saint (an I doubt you are), there have been untold scores of sin for which you have repented and been forgiven: perhaps scores, perhaps hundreds, perhaps thousands? More like thousands, I would say. But God has forgiven you each sin of which you have repented. Now let us look at the example Jesus gives in the Parable:

The King and His Debtor
23 “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.”

            Who do you suppose the King represents in the above passage? It is, of course, God. Who do you suppose was the servant? It was Jerry, Bob, Betty, Paulette, Richard, Donald, and all who call upon the Name of the Lord. We are all a part of every Word that the bible speaks – either good or bad. There will come a time when the books are closed and accounting made, friend, of our lives. God will review our account and decide if our debts have been either paid, or delinquent. May I remind you that your sins are ENORMOUS! But God’s grace is sufficient to cover all through the redemption made available through the sacrifice of His only Begotten Son. Now, I will tell you that ten thousand talents will not begin to number your sins, or mine. But ten thousand talents represent a grievous debt of billions of dollars in our contemporary society. It is a figure that no man can pay. Is there any way that we can make amends for our sins to repay God for the blood of His Son shed on the cross for them? Is it not a grievous number of sins? This servant to which the Lord makes reference had racked up an enormous debt which he could not possibly pay.  The proper punishment for not paying one’s debts was imprisonment and his family sold into slavery until the debt was paid. Can you pay such a debt from the prison of Hell? Can we keep the law so perfectly that the King will not find a debt on our account sheet? 

            The servant was frantic with grief and hopelessness. There being no possible means of repaying the debt (of sin), what did the servant do, and what COULD he do? He had no recourse except that of begging mercy through repentance. 26 “The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.” Have mercy on me, Lord. Forgive my great shortcomings (my sins) and I shall change. Have you come to the point of knowing your only recourse was to throw yourself down before the Throne of God’s Grace and beg forgiveness – not from a priest, but from God? How does the Lord respond to such tears of repentance? 27 “Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.” This act of the King (God) is not exceptional, but made available all whose burdens of sin have become unbearable. He did not simply grant a probationary release, but a permanent forgiveness of ALL debt.  What a relief it must have been to have been relieved of such a burden of debt – for the servant, and for you and me, when we came to Christ! Please note that forgiveness was not granted until it was pleaded for. How should we respond afterwards?

The Forgiven Debtor and the Unforgiven
How soon does the dog return to its own vomit and the washed pig to wallowing in the mud! “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.   (2 Peter 2:22)The nature of a dog and a pig remains the same regardless the provision made for them. A reprobate sinner may fain the repentance necessary before God, But his old nature shall return unless he has truly been made a new creature in Christ.

            Did this forgiven servant amend his thinking after being forgiven? 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.” He was greedy when he begged for mercy of the King, and his darkened heart is yet filled with greed – a hundred pence was a pittance compared to even a single talent; but it must be said that the forgiven servant at this point has no obligation to forgive the debt. That obligation will be made in the next verse: 29 “And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.” Suddenly, the circumstances have changed. The same appeal made by the forgiven servant to the King is now being made to him. How he responds will determine his standing with the King (God). Will he freely forgive as he was forgiven? 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.” First of all, just as we, or a priest, cannot forgive or absolve sin, so can we neither condemn any to the same Hell from which we have been so graciously saved. What abject ingratitude. Once forgiveness is asked for, out of a sincere heart, we have no choice but to forgive. And, just as God does, we should remember the debt no longer that we have forgiven. Make no mistake; the eyes of God are everywhere. His Holy Angels also report directly to Him of every transgression of man. 

            31 “So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.” The fellow servants were more righteous than the forgiven servant because they were sad to see the injustice of an unforgiving heart. No such injustice remains secret to the mind of God. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.” God has forgiven us an immensity of sins, yet we often fail to forgive those around us of a single offense thought they come begging for forgiveness. God places no higher standard of forgiveness upon His children than He, Himself, exercises. To be forgiven of God, we must pray for forgiveness. To be forgiven by men, we must repent and ask for forgiveness. Then are we required to forgive without number of times.  God compares the process of our responsibility to forgive to be identical to His. Remember the Lord’s Prayer which too many utter in vain?  “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matt 6:12) Have we repeated that verse with true conviction? What does this mean? Jesus explains it perfectly in the Parable today and in the sequential statement on the Lord’s Prayer: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt 6:14-15)

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Brazen Altar – 26 October 2018


I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me
(John 14:6)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life
(John 5:24)

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
(John 11:25-26) 

           I have often said, and still believe it to be true, a Christian can in no wise grasp the depth of beauty and meaning of the Gospel without a solid foundation in Old Testament study. The New Testament, and the Old Testament, are not two different books, in a sense, but rather the same story of God’s works from the beginning to the end; and each is full of the beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the WORD, and all of the WORD! 

            When we consider the Tabernacle of the Wilderness, we often consider it merely a matter of historical meaning and of no significance insofar as the Gospel is concerned. If we do so, we err greatly, for the Tabernacle is given as an earthly picture of the spiritual reality of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a complete picture of Him in all of His majesty and grace. However, this devotion is dedicated to only one article of furniture of the Tabernacle which is in the outer court thereof – the Brazen (or Bronze) Altar – the Altar of Burnt Offerings! But let us first consider a general outline of the Tabernacle. 

            It had an outer court and a gate opening to the east. As you will recall, our Lord entered Jerusalem from the Eastern Gate for the last time before His sacrifice. He is also expected to come again in the same way that the sun rises from the east. Just inside the Eastern Gate of the Tabernacle there was an Altar of Sacrifice. The sacrifice was the first object of obligation for all entering the place of God. Without a sacrifice, there would be no entry. Next was the formal enclosure of the Tabernacle. It was a structure covered in a most indecorous mantle of goat’s hair. From the outside, there was nothing attractive about the Tabernacle. It was, in its full expression, a full shadow of our Lord.  2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.(Isaiah 53:2-3)

            Inside the Tabernacle proper were curtains of fine linen and silk, and walls covered in gold plating. The first entry into this enclosure was the Holy Place where only the priests were allowed after having first approached the Laver of Washing just before the entrance. This Laver was used to wash the hands and feet of the priests, and allowed them to see the mirrored image of their face in the Laver. This is comparable to our Prayer of Humble Access in the Anglican worship service of Holy Communion. The Laver could be compared to the Word of God as a mirror of man’s soul. It reflects our frail image of helpless beings without the grace and mercy of God. We see the wicked works of King David as both murderer and adulterer. We see ourselves even in Paul and Judas. But we also see that David repented and was the Apple of God’s Eye. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:23-25)

            Next in order of the Tabernacle Proper was the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest was allowed into this area once a year on the Day of Atonement.  In approaching the entrance from the Holy Place, the High Priest must pass between the Table of Shewbread representing the Body of Christ (on the right) and the Seven-pronged Candelabra (on his left representing the Light of the Holy Spirit in the Churches). He then would approach the Altar of incense whose smoke arose to the Heavens representing the prayers the High Priest there offered on behalf of the people rising to Heaven (like Christ [our High Priest] as an intercessor). He then entered the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies) in which was the Ark of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandments, Manna, and the Rod of Aaron. Just above the Ark of the Covenant was the Mercy Seat. Mercy always triumphs over judgment. Were it not for the mercy of God, engendered by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, we would yet be lost. This room (15 ft by 15 ft) was completely dark. That was the place wherein God met with man. The mysteries of God have not been revealed to man except in those matters which are necessary for his salvation.

            All of these points are mere general descriptions of the Tabernacle. It would take many books to cover, in detail, the full meaning of each article of furniture and space of it. The Tabernacle represents the fullness of the Gospel to us. It represents the works of Christ in its design and function. It represents the Church as a dwelling place in which God lives by His Spirit. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.  (Eph 2:20-22)

            It represents the Christian believer as “the Temple of God.” What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own(1 Cor 6:19)

            There are too many ways in which the Tabernacle reveals the Person of Christ to list in a short devotion; however, let us consider that Brazen Altar as His foremost symbol. Without a sacrifice, no man can see God. That sacrifice was made by our Lord. He is the Lamb of God, without blemish, who was sacrificed from the Foundation of the World. Remember, we are all guilty of sin. None are without that blemish of poison from Adam’s blood. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)And what sentence is passed upon all who sin? For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6:23)That penalty MUST be paid. It could never be satisfied by the death of another sinner. Only a spotless and unblemished Lamb would suffice – the Lamb of God. 

            Since the Brazen Altar is the first object we confront on entering the Tabernacle, we must have a sufficient sacrifice if we will meet God. That Brazen Altar is Christ. No need to worry about the Laver of Washing, or the Shewbread Table, or the Candelabra, or the Altar of Incense, if we have not been covered by that sacrifice of entry. The only access to the Mercy Seat of God is by way of that Brazen Altar. 

            Thank goodness for those verses that follow Romans 3:23 – Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.  (Romans 3:24-25)

            Since the sacrifice of Christ is a full and sufficient sacrifice for our sins, the true church no longer has an altar. An altar is for making sacrifices, and our sacrifice has already been satisfied in Christ. He has become our High Priest, and He it is who has torn the curtain separating us from the Most Holy from top to bottom by His sacrifice. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the TOP TO BOTTOM(Mark 15:37-38)We have not altar, but we do have the Lord’s Table at which we commune together with our Lord. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  (Heb 9:11-14)

            Churches today strive to have the most elaborate of buildings, and ones which will put to same any neighboring church. The investment alone for such buildings would provide sustenance for many missionaries on foreign fields. Yet, most of the mainline churches spend more on buildings and salaries than upon the poor and lost. The director of missions on foreign fields for most churches is a plush and high salaried position that requires little interaction with the poor and dirty souls for whom they claim to care. 

            The Brazen Altar is not something that we make tiny miniatures of to wear around our necks. It illustrates death. In order to be of Christ, we must take up our crosses daily and follow Him. In fact, as He died for our salvation, we, too, must die to self. We must accept that sacrifice that admits us to God’s Holy Presence and, in so doing, we die to self, time-after-time, by putting the interests of Christ and His people above our own desires. It is difficult to deny self, but we must. When we have learned to deny self for the interests of Christ, it will become a righteous habit easy to follow. His cross is not burdensome as some would claim, but easy to be borne. After all, it was His blood that was shed there for many. It is HIS sacrifice we claim for our justification.

            Have you approached that Brazen Altar?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Angel of Marye's Heights – 25 October 2018



Richard Rowland Kirkland, known as "The Angel of Marye's Heights", (August 1843 – 20 September 1863)

The history and traditions of our country are rich in examples of great heroism and patriotism. These great examples are mirrored at every turn in our country's national experience. One such example comes to us from a period of great suffering and sadness as our nation underwent the tortuous ordeal of War...a war that pitted brother against brother and father against son - the great War Between the States.

Richard Kirkland was a young South Carolina Confederate volunteer of 18 years of age at the beginning of the War. He fought in most of the major battles early in the War from First Manassas to Fredricksburg and, later, Chickamauga.

Serving under Colonel Kershaw at Fredricksburg, Sergeant Richard Kirkland found himself a member of Company G of the South Carolina Regiment of Kershaw's Brigade. The Union Army of the Potomac under the inept command of General Ambrose Burnsides had crossed the Rappahanock River and was massed before the Virginia city of Fredricksburg. That city, having refused surrender by its mayor, was destroyed by the heavy Union guns which thundered against its defenseless buildings.

The company of which Kirkland was a member was assigned a defense position along the base of a large and prominent hill called Marye's Heights. Marye's Heights was a formidable tactical position as the artillery of Confederate General Jackson's Army commanded favorable purview of the entire battle area.

There was a stone wall of solid construction which skirted the base of Marye's Heights, and it was behind this wall that Kirkland and his fellow soldiers sought cover from the overwhelming numbers of arms which were wielded by the numerically superior Union Army.

Burnside, ambitious and reckless, ordered wave after wave of blue clad soldiers against this bulwark of defense. The Confederate marksmen behind the wall had little trouble in repulsing these assaults with hundreds and thousands of Union casualties left behind to die or otherwise fend for themselves. On the afternoon of 13 December 1862, the open fields before Marye's Heights were littered with untold numbers of dead, dying and seriously wounded Union soldiers. The cries of their anguish were relentless.

Kirkland was a compassionate soul who could not long endure these sad cries for water and mercy. He sought permission from Col. Kershaw to cross the wall and provide water to these poor souls. Kershaw was reluctant, but acceded to the young man's request despite his firm opinion he would be shot the moment he raised his head above the wall.

Kirkland gathered as many canteens of water as he could carry and bounded over the wall. To all his comrade's amazement, the Union lines drawn up opposite the field did not open fire. Kirkland raced to the first soldier who lay freezing in the cold December weather and gave him water to drink and then threw his coat over him. He then raced to the next, and the next, and the next, giving life-saving water to these desperate victims of the cruelty of war. He perhaps gave aid and comfort to more than one hundred Union wounded that day and was revered by Union and Confederate alike for his great courage and compassion.

Following this great demonstration of humanity, Kirkland became known to both sides as the Angel of Marye's Heights. He was later killed at Chickamauga where the Union Army suffered another resounding defeat.

Later, when the Union Army of General Sherman approached the home of Richard Kirkland in South Carolina, even this ruthless General remembered the Angel of Marye's Heights and gave order that his home be spared from pillage and burning.

Angels come in all forms and personalities. Kirkland was angel to a great number of his enemies. Whose angel are you?
Jerry Ogles

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Foundations – 24 October 2018, Anno Domini


I
the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? 2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. 3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:1-3)

            I have no doubt those who take the time to read daily devotionals will also understand who the Foundation is for every venue life of the righteous believer. Is it not that Solid Rock upon which the Church is founded? Is it not that same Rock that both led and followed the Children of Israel in the Wilderness Journey? Is it not that Stone which the builders rejected and has now become the Chief Cornerstone of the building thereof?

            In American society, as well as most of those in the world, there is a hierarchy of law. The city councils, state legislatures, and Congressional bodies must observe that hierarchy just as does every individual citizen. The lower courts must accede to the rulings of the higher; and the US Supreme Court must base its rulings upon that Supreme Law of the Land called the US Constitution.  

            Does the hierarchy of laws end at the US Constitution? No, it does not. There are laws of states and nations, but there is, above all these, the Supreme Law of the Universe which is proclaimed and enforced by the Triune God. 

            There are many weak-kneed Christians today who lack the valor and spiritual spine to stand solely on the Word of God when government intrudes on that Sacred Ground which defines the Law of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe and of Heaven. They will excuse their disobedience to the Law of God by insisting that there is some imaginary ‘separation of church and state’ that exists nowhere in the US Constitution. 

            At a time when the Roman Pontiff attempted to force false religion on many in Continental Europe and England, courageous Reformers took a stand against the national crowns anointed by the Pope and valorously proclaimed the truth of the Bible and of God’s Law. Many suffered the burning state rather than recant a single verse of Holy Writ. The ashes of these saintly men grace the sanctified stakes of Bohemia, Germany, France, England, and even Rome. Their voices cry out to us from the dust of the earth – “Stay steadfast! Keep the Faith for which we gave our lives freely!

            These men and women did not stand on the marshes of compromise and doubt, but upon the solid Rock of Faith which is Christ. They counted the cost of fidelity to Him, and were willing to pay the price at the stake. They never claimed any ‘separation of Church from obedience to government’ be it secular or religious. They responded by the principles laid down in Holy Writ: 8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man(Psalm 118:8), and Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men(Acts 5:29)

            Unfortunately, government has taken the place of God in the hearts of most who falsely proclaim Christ as Lord; for how can any man be the subject of two kings? Can we serve both God and mammon? If God says Thou shalt have no other gods beside Mewill you still obey government over your Lord and Maker? Will you sheepishly accede to every evil and wicked sin which has been sanctioned by government, but condemned by God? If so, you are no Christian! Will you cowardly cringe behind the skirts of government and plead innocence for you and your so-called church being complicit with the murder of innocent babies in their mother’s womb? Will you cower behind that so-called separation clause to justify your fear in giving dignity to the abomination of homosexual marriage? What other things will you condone ere you stand up like men and women – will six million of a certain race need to be burned in ovens before your limp-wristed faith is kindled?

            Does your faith have any foundation at all? If it is Christ, you will not be moved from the Rock of His Word. How could you be? If it is the sands of society and worldly demeanor, you have a most precarious position. 

            The Clarion calls from the hills for judgment against the nations. Shall America be the recipient? 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.  (1 Cor 3:11-15)

            We are not called forth to follow a Lord of whom we know nothing. We are to know the One whom we have believed. I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us(2 Tim 1:12-14)Are YOU persuaded that Christ is the ultimate power and not some tin-horned potentate in government? For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.  (Luke 14:28-30)
  
            The foundation of this nation has been a firm faith in God. Many cite the US Constitution for not mentioning the name of God. The US Constitution is not the founding document of our Freedoms and Liberty – the principle founding document of America is that document which does call upon God and outlines our dependence upon Him – the Declaration of Independence. It was this document that called forth thousands into the fields of snow and deprivation to defend those principles laid down by God. The US Constitution is a legal, contractual document which provides a means of maintaining and sustaining the principles for which many of our fathers bled and died. 

            These principles are reinforced by the writings of each of the Founding Fathers with explicit trust that religious training would be provided our youth. In his farewell address, President Washington expressed concern for many issues which confront our country today, warning against the “baneful effects” of political party passions, the need to avoid “accumulation of debt,” in our country, and the predictable rise of immorality in our nation resulting from the “exclusion of religious principle.” 

            The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which was a law adopted to regulate the affairs of the Northwest Territory – lands of the Midwest which would eventually be received as states of the Union, states as one of its principle aims in paragraph 13: “ . . .  extending the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty, which form the basis whereon these republics, their laws and constitutions are erected.”

            I will be happy to debate any who challenge me on the specious claim of a “separation clause” in the US Constitution. I am no attorney of super intellect; but, thankfully, like the Bible, the US Constitution is written in such stark and simple terms any citizen of moderate intelligence can understand it aright.

            47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.  (Luke 6:47-49)

           The foundations in America are being destroyed by insidious forces, and evil men who have crept in unawares and whose values are alien to those of a free people. It costs an American of today very little to take a stand for righteousness; but the day shall come when the winds of cruel oppression, and even war, may temper that ease of standing. Better to stand today than to be buried in an avalanche of totalitarianism tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Hymns of the Church – God of Our Fathers, Unto Thee– 23 October 2018, Anno Domini(In the Year of our Lord)



            Though we will celebrate the National Day of Thanksgiving in America on the 22nd of November 2018, it is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O LORD, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.(from 1928 BCP, Communion Service, pg 76) Such is the spirit of the wonderful English hymn of Thanksgiving composed by Arthur Campbell Ainger in 1906. 
The hymn was later adapted to the tune of TRAFALGAR by Hugo Sidney Nicholson in 1916. This version of the hymn is taken from the Standard Edition, Hymns Ancient and Modern, published by the Church of England. (1922)
God of Our Fathers, Unto Thee
God of our fathers, unto Thee
Our fathers cried in danger’s hour,
And then Thou gavest them to see
The acts of Thine almighty power.
They cried to Thee, and Thou didst hear;
They called on Thee, and Thou didst save;
And we their sons today draw near
Thy name to praise, Thy help to crave.
Refrain
Lord God of hosts, uplift Thine hand,
Protect and bless our fatherland.
Thine is the majesty, O Lord,
And Thine dominion over all;
When Thou commandest, at Thy word
Great kings and nations rise or fall.
For eastern realms, for western coasts,
For islands washed by every sea,
The praise be giv’n, O God of hosts,
Not unto us, but unto Thee. 
Refrain
  
If in Thy grace Thou should’st allow
Our fame to wax through coming days,
Still grant us humbly, then as now,
Thy help to crave, Thy name to praise.
Not all alike in speech or birth,
Alike we bow before Thy throne;
One fatherland throughout the earth
Our Father’s noble acts we own.
Refrain
God of our fathers, unto Thee Our fathers cried in danger’s hour, And then Thou gavest them to see The acts of Thine almighty power. They cried to Thee, and Thou didst hear; They called on Thee, and Thou didst save; And we their sons today draw near Thy name to praise, Thy help to crave.It is a fact that the faith of the fathers should be truly descended to that of the sons and daughters. In our modern day when families and marriages are under attack from nihilists and socio-communist engineers, the dutiful teaching of father’s to their sons and daughters concerning the meaning and purpose of our God-given days has suffered lapse. How do the youth of our land know to call upon a God and Father whom they have never known? If the Providential history of our nation were properly taught in public schools, there would yet be the spark of faith to recognize the snares and dangers of the modern assault upon freedom and liberty, and of the only source of true liberty being vested in the Creator of the World. But, happily, the burdens of hard oppression and unjust government often awaken the sleeping spirit of man to relearn the source of his salvation in the Lord whom he may have offended in his former ways. That is the hope of the nations, and of the helplessly trodden underfoot. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. 28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. 31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders(Psalm 107:27-32)Just as the houses and families of the fathers Zacchaeus and the Nobleman of Capernaum were brought to faith by their fathers, so should our own beloveds be brought to the same salvation.
 Thine is the majesty, O Lord, And Thine dominion over all; When Thou commandest, at Thy word Great kings and nations rise or fall. For eastern realms, for western coasts, For islands washed by every sea, The praise be giv’n, O God of hosts, Not unto us, but unto Thee. There is no true American, and something else. We are not African AND American. We are not Chinese AND American. We are not German AND American. We are either true-blue American, or we belong to a divided allegiance. The same is true of God our Father. We are not born of faith in half-bred circumstances. There is none other but God – not God AND Baptist.  Not God AND Presbyterian. Not God AND Anglican – but altogether we belong wholly to God or to the world only. My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.(1 Sam 2:1-4) 
Though our doctrine and faith may be defined by our biblical understanding as articulated by a denominational view, the truth stands eternally  immutable that God is forever true and every man a liar to the contrary.  . . . . let God be true, but every man a liar. (Romans 3:4) The Sovereignty of God is not limited to the righteous believer, but to all Creation (including the cruel and wrathful potentate). God used the fallen Samson to bring judgment on the heathen, and He even called Cyrus, by name, of the Medes and Persians, to conquer Babylon and set His people free to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem.
 If in Thy grace Thou should’st allow Our fame to wax through coming days, Still grant us humbly, then as now, Thy help to crave, Thy name to praise. Not all alike in speech or birth, Alike we bow before Thy throne; One fatherland throughout the earth Our Father’s noble acts we own. The believing remnant of America has been granted a time of reprieve to consider the works of the Lord and to appeal to His Sovereign Will and Providence in the affairs of the nation. If we fail, the failure will be profound for our nation. The hordes of evil doers and unbelievers are banging at the gate to enslave her inhabitants. How shall we respond? If we are as the seamen referenced in Psalm 107 who reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end, what shall be the response of the righteous of the land of our nativity? If we are at wits end, should we not call upon Him whose wisdom is from everlasting to everlasting. We cannot own the answers to our national predicament, but the Lord does, indeed, have those answers. 
The church is undergoing a mutiny of godless men in her midst while her ship is headed into stormy seas. They have ‘crept in unawares’ and have gained the better places of leadership. They propose the very things that God condemns. They are not part of the Holy Church but persist as parasites and deadly organism within her blood. It is high time for the seasoned crew to regain the helm and appeal to the Master Seaman to right our ship and bring her to safe harbor. 
Can you even imagine the response of the western world only fifty years ago if our people were persecuted for not embracing homosexual marriage – of not only rejecting abortion, but the ruthless murder of the infant at the very gates of sunlight and birth? 
I know not what lies ahead for America and the Christian world at large; but I do return thanksgiving to God for preserving us a Godly and free nation among the nations of the earth for these many years, and for His Providential Hand in guiding our Founding Fathers in establishing that nation upon Godly precepts. And I also pray for whatever judgment He may bring of hard persecution and chains if it will awaken us to those wonderful truths which define the Ancient Landmark of our faith, and the Old Paths wherein our fathers walked.